In March 2016, the City Council adopted a vacant property registration program. This tool is intended to address "zombie foreclosures" or homes that have not yet gone through foreclosure and to prevent blight.
Here is the problem - when the City tries to contact the property owner to address issues, the absent owners claim that the mortgage company has possession of the property. Yet, when the City searches for property records, there is no record of the lender taking possession of the property because the property has not gone through foreclosure. The lack of maintenance is often driven by the lucrative mortgage selling market. This silent foreclosure often allows banks to continue to collect the mortgage insurance, often more lucrative than maintaining the property.
The City's solution is to require, upon default of the borrower, to require the lender to perform an inspection of the property. If the property is vacant, the lender shall register the property with the Code Enforcement Division of the Police Department. The registration includes the name and contact information for the lender and is free.
The benefit to the City is that the lender will be responsible for maintaining the property for security and to prevent the property from incurring code violations. Further, if the City spots issues, it can contact the lender directly to obtain compliance.
This is only one tool to address blight. This tool is intended to prevent the loss of value in vacant properties or adjoining properties due to a lack of maintenance.